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Wood carving techniques


Wood carving is a very popular hobby and there are many different wood carving techniques. In our past articles we have covered the types of wood carving tools and we have explained how to sharpen wood carving tools! We will now cover all the popular wood carving techniques to help beginners choose their preferred carving technique.

Relief carving in wood

Let’s start with the most popular wood carving techniques.


Whittling is the oldest wood carving technique and is still very popular. This is the simplest type of wood carving and is ideal for beginners. All you need for whittling is a pocket knife or specialty knife, a leather thimble to protect your thumb, and a cut-resistant glove. Naturally you also need a piece of wood and the most popular are basswood, pine and balsa. Just take a piece of wood and start cutting in the direction of the grain of the wood. Never cut against the grain! There are three main whittling techniques: direct rough cutting, pull stroke (pair cut) and a push stroke. Start with something simple like an egg, don’t try to sparkle a dwarf or deer on your first try. When you’ve scrambled a perfect egg, you can try something more complicated.

Whitling wood carving techniques

chip engraving

Chip carving is carving on a flat piece of wood and is very similar to relief carving. You draw a pattern on a piece of wood and then you remove the excess wood to get a carved image. There are two main types of chip engraving: geometric chip engraving and freeform chip engraving. Geometric chip engraving emphasizes repeating patterns to get a 3D image. Freeform chip engraving is basically drawing with a carving knife to get an image on the wood. Geometric chip carving is done with a chisel and gouge tapped by a hammer at a 45 degree angle to remove pieces of wood. Freeform chip carving is a bit more complicated and it is better to practice geometric chip carving before attempting freeform chip carving. Geometric chip engraving is considered to be as easy or even easier than scintillation and can be a good start for beginners.

Chip carving is a wood carving technique

Relief carving

As we mentioned earlier, relief carving is a wood carving technique very similar to chip carving. The main difference is that with relief carving you are essentially creating an image from a flat piece of wood while with chip carving you are creating a pattern in the wood. Relief carving is done with a chisel, gouge and a mallet and is similar to chip carving. Although relief carving is very difficult and we do not recommend relief carving for beginners. If you have mastered whittling and chip carving, you can try relief carving.

Relief carving is a wood carving technique

Carving spoon

Spoon carving is a very popular carving technique and there are a large number of spoon carvings. If you want to carve a spoon, you will need some basic tools such as a whittling or wood carving knife, a hook tool, a chisel or curved gouge. As with all wood carving techniques you need to keep your tools sharp and in top condition. You can get all this in one engraving set without wasting the time and money of buying each tool separately. We can find your tool set in our guide to wood carving tool sets. Carved wooden spoons are not only used in daily life but also popular as exclusive handmade gifts, original souvenirs and even collectibles. Spoon carving is not easy and you have to be patient until you master the technique. We suggest you start with the big spoon and then gradually try to carve smaller and smaller spoons.

Spoon Carving Wood Carving Techniques

Chainsaw carving

The most unusual type of wood carving is chainsaw carving. As you might imagine from the name, it does not involve wood carving tools such as chisels and gouges. Chainsaw carving is done using only a chainsaw without any other tools. Chainsaw carving requires you to be a true chainsaw master and an artist as there is no room for error. Chainsaw carvers use tree stumps or logs to create a piece of art using only a chainsaw. We do not recommend anyone who is not skilled in using a chainsaw as this is the most dangerous type of wood carving.

Chainsaw carving


Now that you are familiar with the most popular wood carving techniques you can choose the one that suits you best. All you need is a good piece of wood and a small set of wood carving tools and you can start creating masterpieces. If this article inspires you to start carving, please share your wood carving artworks with us.


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